In one of the most testing years in all of our lives, few have been under more pressure than accountants and finance professionals. At home, our financial anxieties have more
than tripled since the pandemic began. At work, finance teams have been relied upon to keep the ship afloat and make tough decisions.
But while the global economy will take some time to bounce back, many businesses are already getting back on their feet. After a year of doom and gloom, this could only be good news, you’d think…
Budgeting under pressure
Yes and no. Recent Oracle research found that those responsible for managing business budgets actually find it more stressful than managing
their personal finances, even when their own purse strings are being squeezed more than ever.
60% of those we spoke to agreed that managing a budget at work is harder than managing personal finances, and 61% say they feel more pressure. Just over half are “more afraid” of making financial mistakes at work than at home, showing it’s not only stress playing on
finance teams’ minds, but also fear.
Yes, there is arguably more on the line when it comes to business budgets – not to mention the complexity of all those different departments, managers, and P&Ls. But that aside, what these figures do expose is a worrying lack of support for finance professionals.
Not from each other, but in accessing the best tools they need to get the job done.
Empowering the back office to empower the front
In our personal lives, we’re more in tune than ever with our finances. We can sign up to new services in a few clicks, get SMS notifications when we’re nearing our credit limit, and receive spending rundowns direct to our home screens. This is now part and
parcel of everyday life, especially for younger generations.
So why is this level of AI-driven insight, assistance, and personalisation not part and parcel of managing business budgets?
The answer is a simple one: many businesses still haven’t given their back office the same attention their front office gets. In financial services, for example, when new customers sign up, the red carpet is rolled out: an onboarding chatbot, an instant
access mobile app, an avatar making savings suggestions – all using advanced AI to give customers the best possible experience.
The back office, meanwhile, is often the poor, forgotten brother of the business. But what’s missing from this magic formula is that giving your back office the same attention will actually lead to happier customers. A customer can be onboarded smoothly,
but if they can’t readily get their money back or have their query processed because the finance team doesn’t have the right tools, they’ll soon fall out of love and loyalty.
What finance teams really need to ease this risk are solutions to their problems. Be it compliance challenges in invoice processing, or frustrations digging around for the right data to answer a query, it’s nothing that AI and automation can’t fix. Testament
to this is that 85% of business leaders want robots’ help with tasks like reporting, approvals, and closing the books. More than this, they need it.
Lower pressure, higher profits
For CFOs and finance teams who have moved their ERP system to the cloud already, the right applications are ready and waiting for them. Bringing AI capabilities into ERP means that rather than have accountants crunching numbers all day long, the system can
detect patterns and anomalies, supporting management by exception and trend.
Through this finance professionals will have more time and energy to spend making faster and more informed decisions; being a better partner to the business, and offering guidance and support – not finding themselves buried in a mountain of spreadsheets.
Not only will these technologies ease the burden on finance teams, but it’ll also lead to better and more profitable businesses. This will have a positive impact on us all, both personally and professionally.